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South By Southwest Music Fest: Digital Downloads Big Topic

Friday, 14 Mar 2008 | 1:18 PM ET
CNBC.com

The music industry is in a bit of trouble as CD sales continue to decline and digital album and track revenues haven't compensate for the drop. Total music sales--including phsical discs and digital download--was down 15 percent from 2006 to 2007.

Here at South by Southwest--where the music industry comes to hear the 1,700 bands that perform here this week--it's still a party. Last night, even from my 14th floor hotel room in Austin, Texas, I could hear bands playing into the wee hours.

It seems there are more indie bands than ever-and now there are more ways for them to get exposure-and make a living. A decade ago, bands were totally reliant on the music labels: Warner Music Group ,BMG, Universal Music Group and if you didn't get signed by a label, there was no way to make it big. Now, the music industry has been truly democratized. Bands can self-promote on social networking sites and sell direct to consumers without printing a single compact disc.

Digital downloads are the big topic here at SXSW and while Apple's iTunes dominates the market, other smaller players are using the audience here to try to get traction. Half of all music sold in the U.S. will be digital by 2011 and by 2012, revenues from digital music are expected to exceed revenues from traditional music sales, according to Forrester.

We spoke to the CEO of eMusic, David Pakman, about his service, which is second to iTunes in terms of number of downloads. They're going after more of the baby boomer crowd. Check out the video.

Business Boost From SXSW
eMusic CEO David Pakman talks to CNBC about the benefits of the South-by-Southwest Music Festival.

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.